Insurance Companies Diss & Dismiss The Limo Industry

Posted on January 6, 2016 by - Also by this author

On Dec. 15, 2015 there was a post on the Limousinesonline.com discussion forum from someone using the screen name, Eliothrift. The post asked for assistance in obtaining insurance for a new limo operation in Florida. It went on to say they are running one 2005 6-pack stretch limo and no insurance company wants to insure them because they are a “start-up.” I found this very odd since it is only a single car. How much liability could there be in this operation? While it was intriguing to me, it was not of concern.

That is, until I received a non-renewal letter from Zurich Insurance. We have been with them for years. I was offered a lower rate last year from Transportation Insurance Brokers (TIB) at renewal time, but at the suggestion of my agent, I took the higher quote offered by Zurich based on an assertion that if I stayed with them for another year, an accident we had in 2011 would “drop off” and our rates would be reduced “substantially.” Apparently this was not the case at all. I was horrified to receive this letter.

Shortly after receiving the letter, I saw another post on the forum from Streetwise Transportation indicating they had a 20-passenger bus and no insurance company would insure them. Now, I was even more concerned about what was going on in the industry with respect to fleet insurance.

Then came someone I respect and admire; Doug Schwartz posting in another private limo forum on Facebook. Schwartz asked the 800+ member of the Facebook forum if anyone was having problems with insurance renewals. The post took off like wildfire! Seems everyone is having the same problem. The most concerning post I saw was from Paula Debiasi from Chicago Coachworks who was 14 days from away from renewal and unable to obtain insurance.

I spoke with Matt Barbach, a vice president at Zurich, who would speak only in general terms and not about any particular policyholder, such as myself. Burbach indicated that a dramatic increase in settlements has been incurred during party bus rides and caused many red flags to pop up in our industry. He suspects other carriers are probably experiencing the same type of losses, and their collective reaction is to minimize their losses and decline further insuring such vehicles. Sometimes that means walking away from an entire fleet of other vehicle types simply because they don’t want party buses on their policy. As for the 6-pack stretch limo that can’t be insured, I’m still scratching my head on that one.

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